Proximity Operations Sensors Demonstration Experiment

PI: Stefan Bieniawski, Blue Origin LLC

The Proximity Operations Sensors Demonstration project will test a lower-cost alternative to existing sensor concepts for autonomous rendezvous and proximity operations (RPOs). The tests will use an ultra-wideband relative localization system and a vision-based navigation camera to determine the relative position and attitude of two spacecraft at reduced size, weight, power, and cost compared to existing sensors. This could provide a beneficial alternative for more routine operations.

Technology Areas (?)
  • NA
Problem Statement

The national roadmap for returning humans to the Moon requires numerous rendezvous and docking activities for crewed and uncrewed spacecraft. Existing concepts for autonomous RPOs are reliant on large, expensive, heavy, and relatively power-hungry sensors. There is a need for alternative, lower-cost sensor options for RPOs to enhance the ability to carry out complex, multi-vehicle missions in low-Earth orbit and cislunar space.

Technology Maturation

The sensors being tested will collect relative position data between 1) the propulsion module and the crew capsule of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket-based system from separation to loss of signal, and 2) the propulsion module and the landing pad during landing. New Shephard’s navigation system will provide truth data for comparison. The flight test aims to advance the proposed low-cost vision-based and ultra-wideband sensors for RPOs from technology readiness level (TRL) 4 to TRL 6.

Future Customers

RPOs for future crewed and uncrewed lunar missions
Routine RPOs requiring lower costs, size, weight, or power consumption

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    TechFlights21 (Dec 2021)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 0 sRLV

Development Team

  • PI
    Stefan Bieniawski
  • Organization
    Blue Origin LLC
  • Sponsor

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